Monday, April 6, 2009
THE CHERRY ORCHARD
We went to see The Cherry Orchard on Saturday night. This was a Tom Stoppard adaptation directed by Sam Mendes. It is one of the 'Bridge Project' which is a series of co-productions from Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Old Vic, and Neal Street Productions. Each year a combined British/American company will perform classic plays in New York and London and selected international venues. It had a great cast with the likes of Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Richard Easton, Rebecca Hall, Josh Hamilton and Ethan Hawke.
The American/ British combination was pretty interesting. We seem to expect more from the British when it comes to classical drama but the Americans put up a pretty good show. It was good that the actors used their own accents (except for Selina Cadell who adopted a German accent as she in the play was the only 'foreigner')instead of cobbled Russian ones. Checkov supposedly wrote the play as a comedy although most of the early performances were done as tragedy. Stoppard and Mendes have done this adaptation as foreboding with ominous portentous events about to happen. The sets are gloomy and worked really well with the themes of potentially violent change (even though the main characters are oblivious to it).
Checkov's turn of the 19th to 20th century Russia could well be turn of the 20th to 21st century any where else. The aristocrats still ponce about. The Merchant classes (bourgeoisie)and nouveau riche forget their roots and struggle to find fulfilment beyond making more money and the poor stay hungry.
Checkov wrote this just before he died and his hopes for positive change with improvement in conditions for the peasant classes in retrospect was wishful thinking. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
We bought tickets for A Winters Tale which is on next Saturday with the same actors and producers. Unfortunately we didn't check when Easter weekend is so will miss this as we will be away. Bugger.
A wine reference?
At the end when the peasant-become-merchant Lopakhin sets out sparkling wine to farewell the aristo's he mentions that the inferior tipple cost 8 roubles a bottle. This was handy as context because he paid 80,000 roubles over the mortgage to secure the cherry orchard property. The wine was said to not be Champagne. In today's wine market a cheap Aussi bubbly might well be $8.